The Great Chicken (Alaska) Raid Lays An Egg

By Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor

EPALogoA few days ago, there was some good-natured banter in the comments about Chicken, Alaska. Since I have relatives who do gold mining there during the summer months, I followed up with some reading about Chicken. This old gold mining town was founded in 1886. We often hear of something being “in the middle of nowhere.” In this case it’s true. Chicken is a six hour drive northeast of Fairbanks on the Taylor Highway, which goes to Dawson, Yukon.

This is one of the most isolated and difficult to reach communities on the North American continent. The only way in and out is either by the Taylor Highway or a small airstrip. I was surprised to learn that this town of 17 people (6 households and 4 families) was the subject of a raid last fall. The raid was carried out by a black-clad SWAT team in full body armor and armed to the teeth. The eight agents appeared out of nowhere in the tiny town. They were from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on a mission to inspect the water associated with gold mining.

Now to put this in perspective, my relatives appear to be among the suspects. I did the math on the suspect to agent ratio, and there was a SWAT officer for every 2.17 persons in town. However, the true population is the subject of some debate. The 2010 Census recorded a population of seven (7) people. There are, of course, the determined travelers making the Fairbanks to Dawson trek. I say “determined” travelers, because it is a trip that one has to be determined to make in order to even consider the drive. That clearly made the odds in favor of the townspeople, so it is understandable the officers were all dressed in body armor and armed with a variety of firearms.

After their inspection of the mining and miners, the Federal agents warned the miners to not put so much mud in the creeks. Really. That was their order.

I was never able to find out if they seized any of Susan’s cinnamon rolls or pies for “evidence.” Susan sells her baked goods to tourists passing through on their way to the Yukon Territory or south to Fairbanks.

To their credit, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have attempted to inquire into the task force’s actions. Alaska Congressman Don Young is also trying to get information. So far, straight answers are not forthcoming from the EPA. The EPA has refused to publicly explain why it used armed officers as part of what it called a “multi-jurisdictional” investigation of possible Clean Water Act violations in the area. In a conference call with Alaska’s Senators and Congressman Young, members of their staff, state police officers, the EPA claimed it sent in the task force armed and wearing body armor because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.” Officials with the state police say that is simply not true, which is a polite way of saying the EPA is lying. The State Troopers have no information, and never had any information, regarding “rampant drug and human trafficking.”

The citizens of Alaska and especially the town of Chicken, have a lot of questions about this raid by armed Federal agents. Alaskans have a deep distrust of Federal agencies, which have traditionally been heavy handed in their interactions with local citizens.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says one of its compliance officers went along with the task force, but claim it was only to look for potential state violations at the mine sites.

The DEC admits its officer was armed. It seems safe to assume the DEC officer was one of the black clad SWAT officers in body armor. What has been learned so far is that in addition to the DEC officer, the raid was carried out by members of the EPA, the FBI, Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense.

So that we know what kind of town required a full squad of SWAT officers, we need to take a look at the town.

Next, we take a look at a miner who must be one of those ordered by the EPA to not put mud into the creek as he mined for gold. Looks like he could be a drug and human trafficker to me. Real shifty eyed type.

Don’t put mud into the water. That’s what they ordered. I have to wonder if those guys have ever SEEN an Alaskan mudflat. Last time I was in Anchorage, I flew with a bush pilot. For thirty minutes of the flight–at 120 mph–we were over mudflats, and the end was not in sight. Don’t put mud into the water indeed!


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51 thoughts on “The Great Chicken (Alaska) Raid Lays An Egg

  1. Too much oil and other natural resources. The US would never allow Alaska to secede. But, maybe Putin will try and take it back. He has Obama on the ropes in the Ukraine.

  2. I can personally vouch for some of the ridiculousness of the EPA.

    In the county I worked in there were several incidences where the EPA would come in an rip farmers a new one just for doing ordinary farming practices, threatening them with fines. It was not uncommon for neighbor disputes to erupt where one of them would call the EPA and rat out the other for alleged violations. The burning of crops was one of them. If it was not done exactly to the specs the EPA decided they levied $10,000 fines against them.

    This is how ridiculous it got. The EPA fined an orchardist who burned out the trees that were uprooted for a new crop, but the orchardist was permitted to burn off prunings (small branches that need to be trimmed off) but not trunks. So to protect himself he “pruned” the trees all the way down to the trunk.

    Another big nightmare for the EPA was dust. Every few years there is a drought and irrigation and rain is not as available. Some areas become dusty and blow. EPA has hassled farmers for dust blowing and fined them. This is more of a soil conservation issue than anything but blowing dust is, like, part of nature.

    One of the most ridiculous EPA stories I can remember was from a BNSF Railroad Police officer. There is an area on the West end of our county that is a gigantic sand dune and is very dry around it. The department of transportation has been mining sand from the area since at least the 1960’s for winter road sanding. The railroad’s right of way passes through this. The area for thirty years has attracted many motocross bike entusiasts due to its large hills and dunes.

    He told me the railroad got nicked by the EPA because it did not prevent motorcyclists from kicking up dust on their right of way and threatened BNSF with a big fine if they didn’t comply. It was highly cost prohibitive for the railroad to fence off all the rangeland on its right of way (not to mention putting some form of gate on both ends of this to block the motorcyclists riding around it). To aggravate things was BNSF’s main East / West trunkline in central WA. Plus, if the motorcyclists just rode a yard past the fence it would create the same dust conditions, but at least BNSF would be off the hook.

    To placate the EPA for a while he had to patrol this three mile area looking for motorcyclists while leaving the thousands of miles of other trackline off the radar.

    The entire experience taught me one thing. The EPA seems to want to go after low hanging fruit such as the farmers or the railroad so that they can pump the numbers up to make it look statistically they are doing something. Unfortunately regular people are victimized in the process.

  3. Government regulations are like the Mafia protection racket. You pay protection[lobbyists giving cash to legislators] and you’re protected. Individuals can’t pay protection. So they get picked on by regulators. The IRS is famous for this. They LOVE to audit small businesses. Big corporations, well they pay no taxes. This bullying by the government on the small guy should not come as any revelation. But, I know it does to some here.

  4. The enigmatic tragedy which I observe lurks within understanding human life as purely adversarial-oppositional and grounded on escalating reciprocal retaliation is of an aspect of the intrinsic nature of the group psychosis of mirror-neuron-replicated deception, to wit, a person who is actually deceived cannot be consciously aware of being deceived because being consciously aware of being deceived is contiguous with being not-deceived.

    If the process of becoming deceived is sufficiently painful, the pain of deception concurrently becomes both too immense to be forgotten and too immense to be remembered, and some sort of biological/neurological moral injury trauma becomes inescapable.

    Thus, methinks, the work of the late physiologist, Benjamin Libet, to the effect that socially-normal people make decisions unconsciously about 500 milliseconds before becoming consciously aware of the decision already made and already being enacted out.

    By what form of faux pseudo-truthfulness can a person’s consciousness be held accountable for decisions not consciously made and therefore never made within consciously willful control or supervision?

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